The Florida/Miami Marlins have been playing baseball for nearly three decades, but only twice in franchise history has a player managed to hit 40 home runs in a season for the Fish. The first player to get there did so on this day 25 years ago.
The Florida Marlins were playing their third game of a four-game set against the Montreal Expos on Sept. 7, 1996 when Gary Sheffield made history. Sheffield’s eighth-inning blast broke up the shutout and served as a franchise-first in a 2-1 defeat.
The Marlins had managed just four hits and no runs as Sheffield came to the plate to face Montreal’s Ugueth Urbina with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Sheffield had walked in each of his first three at-bats, but after falling behind 0-2, Sheffield blasted one over the left-center field wall for his 40th home run of the season.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, that would be all of the offense. Florida would draw a pair of walks off Montreal closer Mel Rojas, but nothing else in the 2-1 defeat.
The Expos got the scoring started with an RBI ground by Darrin Fletcher in the second inning. Mike Lansing, who had three of the seven hits for Montreal, came through with an RBI triple in the fifth. Kurt Abbott had two of the five hits for Florida. Joe Orsulak had three outfield assists for the Marlins in the loss.
As for Sheffield, he would finish the season with a club record 42 home runs. That record would last 21 years before Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 during his MVP season of 2017.
Sheffield finished his career with 509 career home runs, but he hit 40 in a season just twice. He first accomplished that feat on this day a quarter-century ago.